God damn hippies.
Times are bad enough you can’t keep a mill running without some artsy photographer creepin’ around the chantier – what’s he doin’ there? What’s he seein’ in that pile of woodchips?!
Send Rashid – sighs Mr. Bunyan – can’t be bothered himself. He’s looking out over a vacant work yard there from an overheated office. Bloody weak coffee.
Rashid has managed to hold his job despite the last few bad years. He can’t complain but his heart’s not in it and you can tell. Yeah, it’s just… we have to ask you not to be taking pictures in the yard (Rashid, apologetic) – it’s just policy, you know… the boss, he sends me to tell you…
You can’t win this one but it just means you’ll have to get here earlier, or late on a Sunday. It’s okay, you know, you smile and shrug, gesture futilely with your camera… look, it won’t hurt you.
Back in the office, Mr. Bunyan likes order. Well, the idea of it. Stacking things, lining them up, re-stacking them and then moving them about and stacking them again! Making round things square… such a grand adventure, such a Great Enterprise it was!
He despises Excel. Days were, Timekeeper Johnny Inkslinger would manage all that, keep the inventory confabulated as it were. Sighs again… all those columns and rows, it’s just not the same as it used to be. Integrated office systems…?! Thunderation!
That snoopy hipneck out there, what’s he seein’? Mr Bunyan, he’s rubbing his eyes, forgets his giant misgivings for a moment and slowly raises his arms to the window.
Forms up a thick-fingered frame, scans the yard. Click.
This is the third of a series of blogs designed around cryptic re-invention of Paul Bunyan, or Bonyenne… inspired by a purchase from a used bookstore in Bellingham, WA, some 20 years ago now. Paul Bunyan, by James Stevens, with Woodcuts by Allen Lewis. Penned in 1925, this compilation of short stories – or rather, tall tales I should say – stands for me as a splendid work of contemporary parody, only it was written 87 years ago.
In the books, Paul Bunyan was just one of 3 giants run the camp… the others being Ole Oleson (“The Big Swede”) and Johnny Inkslinger: timekeeper, surveyor, and basically your fokelore equivalent of your administrative department. His prodigious talent at ‘figuring’ would be a match for the camp’s voracious production. And besides being a giant, he was a strange character…
“His large, pale eyes looked through old fashioned spectacles. His nose was original; it sloped out to an astonishing length, and a piece of rubber the size of a barrel was pinched over the end of it. He was certainly an educated man. He wore a necktie, for one thing; yes, and there were papers resting on one raised knee; in his right hand was a pencil, and many others were behind his ears. Now he was figuring with incredible speed; then he thrust the rubber in his nose against the paper, shook his head three times and the sheet was clean… Paul Bunyan wanted to shout… Here was the one person who was needed to make his camp a perfectly organized industry…”